"The Soup" host Joel McHale, Scott Bakula and a host of comedic actors are set to star opposite Matt Damon in Steven Soderbergh's darkly comic thriller "The Informant" for Warner Independent Pictures, Participant Media and Groundswell Prods.
Bakula and McHale, who is in final negotiations, will play FBI agents working with agri-business insider Mark Whitacre (Damon) to stop a price-fixing scam. The film is based on Kurt Eichenwald's 2000 best-seller "The Informant: A True Story."
Other new cast members known for their comedic turns are Mike O'Malley (CBS' "Yes, Dear"), Andrew Daly ("Semi-Pro"), Adam Paul (Starz's "Hollywood Residential") and Melanie Lynskey (CBS' "Two and a Half Men"). Comedian-actors Tom Wilson, Rick Overton and Tom Papa will round out the cast.
Although the subject matter is serious, one behind-the-scenes informant said Soderbergh is looking to create a thriller with dark comedy elements. He chose comedic actors who haven't been overexposed on film, planning to have them play their roles seriously and have a humorous tone emerge naturally.
In an interview in her Somerville row house, which is liberally decorated with artwork by her older son, Kyle Damon, a mixed-media artist, she speaks publicly for the first time about the violence in Matt's movies.
"Do I wish my son didn't make movies with so much violence? Yes," says Carlsson-Paige, who has earned national acclaim for her groundbreaking work on the impact of media violence on children. "In my perfect world, our artists would show us a way out of the violence we are immersed in instead of perpetuating it. But what I wish for even more is that society didn't crave violence so much, because it perpetuates a cycle of violence that only produces an appetite for more and more of it. What I focus on is that we have to find ways to protect children from exposure."
Damon says his mother's views are always in his mind. "I've always made my decision about what movies to make with an eye toward these issues," he says over the phone from London, where he was taking a break from shooting "The Green Room" in Morocco. "I've grown up knowing about all this, after all. As a high school kid, I'd come home to find my mom in the living room watching TV cartoons, counting acts of violence, and I would watch with her, to see what she was looking for. . . . I accept and agree with what she says - that it desensitizes kids, that there could be blowback from it."
His concern led him to refuse to allow his likeness to be licensed for any "Bourne" toys or video games. "I lobbied hard [with the video producers] to not make a first-person shooter game but to make it more like Myst, which was a great interesting puzzle you tried to solve - you know, to play with his amnesia or his memory," he says. "They weren't interested. They made the video anyway, without my likeness."
He adds, "I'd like to think that I at least made them more aware of the issues. That's step one. Step two is changing behavior. I learned that from my mom, too."
Ever a realist, she acknowledges that some people will buy her book only because it's written by Matt Damon's mother. (Groupies' alert: The book contains about seven anecdotes from Matt's childhood.) She's not offended. "I just hope they read it once they buy it," she says.